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Interning Remotely in South Africa

Malikah Ullah, an undergraduate Psychology student, is currently completing a remote internship with South African non-profit, Ikamva Labantwana. She was awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of her placement. Malikah is blogging about her experience of interning virtually – read part one below. Part two and three are available on Malikah’s blog, malikahsblog.co.uk

Since June, I have been an intern at South Africa’s Ikamva Labantwana which means ‘our children’s future’ in Xhosa. As a centre for at-risk children, I identify with the beliefs of Ikamva strongly; especially on the importance of education. By providing local young people who are out-of-school or need support after-school with informative and practical modules, they allow students to keep learning and not be held back by geography or circumstance. Not only is Ikamva a learning space, it is a safe haven for kids and a productive use of their time.

This internship was organised by VACorps who worked swiftly to secure me an internship that suited my personality. I was looking for something that would involve people and helping people, which Ikamva focus on. It was a perfect match! Not only was internship a quick and easy match, I was supported by #SantanderUniUK who provided funding making sure finance didn’t put me off.

I think the opportunity to do a remote internship has been one positive to come from COVID (maybe the only good thing!). Due to travel restrictions, internships in South Africa’s townships have been made possible which were otherwise too rural to reach. Not only has working at Ikamva been rewarding, but I’ve learnt a ton about how to conduct research and make raw data and information both engaging and teachable. As a psychology student, this internship has allowed me real-life experience conducting research on sensitive subjects, including sexual violence, in order to create a final informative yet understanding piece which could be communicated to young girls. This is not unlike producing lab reports or communicating research products to the public as we do in my course.

A part of this research was attending a Zoom talk about how COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affecting women in Africa. It was hosted by Africa.com and attended by the awesome politician and humanitarian Graca Machel and philanthropist Melinda Gates. Both women had great ideas about how having a seat at the table on all levels of the government and policy-making boards will benefit all women up as they become a part of the decision-making process. This was actually an opportunity that was put on my radar by my supervisor at Ikamva; it was excellent to see how far women supporting women can get you.

For one of my tasks, I had the challenge of creating a life skills module just for girls aged 10-17 years old on issues that they felt were neglected in school including bullying, consent and having tangible female role models. I took this responsibility extremely seriously and worked hard to find black women who had done great work and changed all of our lives in some way – to which there were many! I wanted to select a few who could inspire the girls and show them that there is no limit to what they could do and become. One problem that the girls fed back was feeling underappreciated and having achievement go unrewarded. At Ikamva, they created an annual showcase for the girls’ work in response to this. This aptly sums up how Ikamva is there to help and develop the youth.

By working with such an ethos, it follows suit that the staff are lovely and very accommodating. It’s been nice to have prompt communication and feedback especially now that my first year at university has concluded. Keeping busy is also important since I have been shielding at home since March! In this sense, remotely interning in a country with a different society and other languages than mine has been a great opportunity that I definitely didn’t want to pass up.

Meetings via Zoom have posed their own challenges with timing differences and issues with connectivity, but it always works out in the end. Technology is really the thing that made this internship possible. I feel privileged to intern at a place that keeps in contact, check in on me and that provides proper support.

Maybe next year I will be in South Africa in person but for now, I’m super happy to work around my own schedule and I am enjoying working from home.

For part two and three, please visit malikahsblog.co.uk.

Interning at the Rivendell Art and Retreat Center in The Canary Islands

Isabella Jones, a Design student, interned at the Rivendell Art and Retreat Center in La Palma, The Canary Islands for her Erasmus Traineeship.


Obtaining my placement

I was offered an internship at the Rivendell Art and Retreat Center in La Palma, in the Canary Islands. It is an eco-center with a theatrical twist that invites groups to host workshops related to creative and ecological topics, as well as wellbeing. I sourced this placement through networking within the areas of my interest.

My Design brief consisted of two parts. My first task was the designing of a promotional campaign.

I started with Photography to have a base and feel for the campaign.

Here are some examples of graphics created. Signs had been made ready to start the promotion by resident artists. This allowed me to translate an existing aesthetic into graphics.

 

 

The second part of my design brief was to design a water and therapy pool. 

A Tea Bag Project 

Below is an art project I also helped create with dyed recycled teabag material. This is the most fancy tool box I have ever worked on!

Challenges and learning points

The challenges at Rivendell included remaining focused with an array of jobs, visitors and animals all needing attention. However, I am confident that both my skills as a promoter and as a photographer as developed during my internship have armed me for my final year at Goldsmiths.

The whole point of a placement abroad is to submerge oneself into a different routine and culture. Enriching not only ones personal and academic work but also adding textures and memories that can open up new pathways and thoughts. I never know where my feet will take me, but where ever I go, I record my story with a visual diary. Creating visual poetry and capturing not just the views but feelings
of a place, the good and less positive aspects as well.

My visual diary

I always feel like I can thoroughly soak myself in a place through my camera lens and even when I decide to leave my camera at home, that attention to detail allows me to discover stories within the wood of an old peeling door, a barking dog in a remote backyard or a dusty volcanic rock. The following photos are examples of my visual diary. Its not just the photos, but the combination of feelings caused when they are placed together.

The archaeology of the island

I am fascinated by experimental archeology and La Palma is an island with a turbulent political and historic past. From the natives on the island, the ‘Benahoritas’ with their advanced knowledge in astronomy and mysterious rock engravings, to the Spanish conquest in the 14th Century. It’s amazing to study traces of these past cultures within the architecture of the cities and the wild places of the islands, and through the many legends and stories.

 

Experimental Workshops

As well as exploring the volcanic landscape, I also organized a role playing event in the local valley. One moment that delighted me was when I met a lady who had worked as a telescope software programmer (The island has a world famous astronomical observatory) and I led an experimental workshop creating
cardboard shields with runic and Elven inscriptions. I translated “Cat” into runes for my new friend. It goes to show, no matter your job, creating a low-res designed object can bring out the playfulness that we all hold inside of us and that really defines for me, the joy of being at Rivendell. After an epic battle with biodegradable water balloons, the ‘Elven’ queen beat the ‘Ringwraith’ king and we restored peace to the valley once more (The passing tourist’s faces were priceless).

Volunteering as a English and German Teacher in Greece

Giulia, a Media and Communications student, volunteered as an English and German teacher for a non-governmental organisation called Respect for Greece in Athens, Greece for her Erasmus+ Traineeship.


How did you source your placement? 

At the beginning, I applied for the European Solidarity Corps – a website suggested by the Go Abroad Team – but unfortunately I did not receive a response. Nonetheless, the Go Abroad Team gave some helpful tips on how to continue searching for placements. In the end, I found my placement online by googling ‘Volunteer work in Greece’.

What were the highlights of your experience abroad?

One highlight of my experience abroad was the day I said goodbye to my language teaching organisation. Not because I was leaving – on the contrary – but because I was surprised me with a goodbye party by my colleagues. We had a delicious Arabic barbecue and we danced traditional Greek and Arabic dances all night. In addition, meeting wonderful and brave people from all over the world (mostly the Middle East) was a privilege. We shared personal stories with each other and taught each other phrases from our respective languages. This was an important shared experience.

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Volunteering at MEMPROW SA in Johannesburg, South Africa

This Fine Art student volunteered at a women’s empowerment and enabling organisation called MEMPROW SA, in South Africa. She was awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of her placement.


How did you find your placement?

I visited South Africa to implement Healing and Empowering Art workshops for Women. I was employed by an organisation called MEMPROW SA, a women’s empowerment and enabling organisation who aim to combat sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). MEMPROW have a base at a drop-in centre called Sithand’Izingane Care project in Tsakane Township, Johannesburg, South Africa which supports residents who may be unemployed by providing short courses and skills to get them into work. 

My involvement with the organisation began in 2018 when I was part of a team that was implementing workshops within the centre. Later on, I was asked to go back to continue the much needed work. Luckily, the Goldsmiths Go Abroad Scheme funded the workshops in 2019, so I was able to implement an elevated set of workshops with more women at Sithand’Izingane Care Project.  The workshops were 4 days long, and consisted of poetry and spoken word, life drawing, self-reflective sculpture and an Exhibition on the final day where the community would come to see the work and contribute to the conversation surrounding SGBV and women’s empowerment through art.  

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Writing Course at Humboldt University Berlin

Sean, a Visual Cultures student, attended a four-week writing course at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. He was awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of his placement.


I became aware of the Go Abroad programme when a peer on my course notified me that funding for placements abroad over the summer were available. Upon hearing this information, I immediately searched through the Go Abroad website for opportunities. I was delighted to find that placements in Berlin were available on writing so I applied for a course at Humboldt University.

I loved everything about my experience abroad, but I especially enjoyed the privilege of getting to live in such a busy city in the centre of Europe in the middle of a hot summer! Berlin itself is amazingly vibrant, as it is a leading figure of many trends in contemporary culture and immersed in history. The character of Berlin itself was a major influence on my experience abroad and taught me so much about the history of Europe and obviously the history of Berlin as a bordered city.

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Data Science Summer School in Wrocław, Poland

Sam, a Media and Communications student, attended a two-week data science summer school in Wrocław, Poland. He was awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of his placement.


I decided I wanted to take advantage of the Go Abroad programme but came to the idea quite late. Looking around on the internet, I came across the Data Science summer school in Wrocław. I’d always wanted to try and work on my computer programming skills after several aborted attempts at self-education throughout my adulthood, and I’d never been to Poland but I knew that it has a fascinating history, so I took the plunge.

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Peer-Coaching in Ljubljana, Slovenia

This ICCE student completed an eight-day peer-coaching course in Ljubljana, Slovenia. They were awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of their placement.


In August of 2019 I travelled to Ljubljana in Slovenia for an 8-day peer-coaching course. I found the course through the Erasmus website, and it seemed to be one of the only peer-coaching training programmes in Europe. The course was organised by a company called Primera, and they are one of the kindest, most thoughtful training providers I’ve ever worked with. There were so many little details – they bought us croissants every morning, they organised a trip to show us less well-known parts of Slovenia, they adapted the training to suit each person’s needs, at one point the trainer even offered to lend one of my course mates her car!

Although the training was academically very useful for me and has progressed my understanding of the topic, the highlight for me was working closely with so many Europeans (I was the only British person on the course). It enabled me to understand how open, multi-cultural, and outward looking a lot of European people are, and I noticed a real difference in their outlook as compared to British citizens. I have tried to take this new perspective home with me, and to take more of an interest in things happening outside my immediate bubble. Another highlight was the food! I had a few absolutely incredible meals there, normally in restaurants recommended by the training providers or people on my course.

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Studying French at the Alliance Française de Toulouse

Serena Yang, a International ICCE student, completed a two-week French course at the Alliance Française of Toulouse in France. She was awarded funding by Santander Universities to help cover the costs of her placement.


How did you find your placement?

I discovered that I could receive funding to go abroad when I saw some information about the programme in the Goldsmiths app, where, at the team had been making a concerted effort to showcase global opportunities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the programme is open to students from non-Eu countries, so I booked a meeting with the global opportunities team. It was during this meeting that I decided to apply for a place on a two week French course at the Alliance Française de Toulouse.

What were the highlights of your experience abroad? 

My two-week French class at the Alliance Française Language School in Toulouse allowed me to learn not only the language but also the local culture. I was able to truly immerse myself in the language because I was consistently surrounded and influenced by the city’s linguistic practices. In addition, my classmates were made up of individuals from all over the world, which meant that I was able to gain an insight into the various linguistic approaches of people from other nations, as we were all grappling with French in our own unique way. Through this process, I created many close connections, especially with a fellow classmate from South Africa.

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Volunteering as an Au Pair in Spain

Madeleine, a History student, volunteered as an au pair for a Spanish family in Madrid, Spain. She was awarded funding by Santander Universities to help cover the costs of her placement.


At the beginning of August 2019, I hopped on a train from Yorkshire and just over a day later I arrived in Madrid, Spain. I made use of the Go Abroad funding by purchasing an interrail ticket and using trains instead of planes to reduce my carbon footprint. After having studied Spanish for just 7 months I was eager to use it in practice, but didn’t want this experience to cost the earth! Through the organization AuPairWorld, I found a host family online who I would be staying with for the next month in return for helping their children with English.

The highlights of my time abroad range from the feeling as huge as being whisked into Madrid’s mountains on an old rickety train, to engaging in Spanish conversation at a coffee shop. Spain has such a variety of landscapes on offer, from poolside paradises to luscious green forests. It was such a thrill every time to be able to hear the Spanish language all around me!

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Volunteering at Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma in Spain

Andrea Pisano, an International ICCE student, volunteered at Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma in Spain. She was awarded funding by Goldsmiths to assist in covering the costs of her placement.


How did you find your volunteering activity?

Last year I really wanted to go to Spain because I have always been fascinated by the language and the culture. I found my volunteering activity in the Es Baluard Modern and Contemporary Art Museum online. I applied, and after a few weeks of waiting I was given the chance to have an interview with the manager of the museum, which led to me successfully obtaining my placement.

What skills did you learn?

Initially I was anxious because it was my first time working in the art industry, however it turned out to be an experience full of energy. I gained many different skills including how to encourage visitors to get involved with museum activities. I was also able to work in collaboration with my co-workers, practice my Spanish, and gain insight into the works that are related to the island, such as sculpture and paintings of Picasso and Miró.

What was your daily routine?

My daily routine was always full of different things to do between the work in the museum and practicing my Spanish. Every day there were activities taking place at the museum which involved people of different ages and nationalities. It was not only an artistic centre, but also a concentrate of different languages, cultures and religious beliefs.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

My challenges included finding a room in the busiest period of the year (July and August), being alone in a new country with different customs and working with children during their summer school activities. children tended to touch the works, scream during the exhibition and speak in different languages. Whilst this was hard to deal with initially, with the guidance of the staff I slowly learned the patience that was required to manage them effectively.

What are the benefits of going abroad?

As an international student, going abroad is the best way to open your mind, make new friends and learn another language; this makes you very attractive to future employers. The Go Abroad Team was really helpful as they provided me with the funding that supported me through the experience. This has definitely inspired me to travel abroad next summer.